Grayson Allen controls the ball against Kenny Williams during the first half of a semifinal game of the 2018 ACC tournament at Barclays Center.

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Lichtenstein: Nets Typically Emphasize Character In Draft Targets

Steve Lichtenstein
June 19, 2018 - 8:51 am

As a Nets fan, I’ve gotten used to watching all the pre-draft punditry with bemused detachment.

Brooklyn, despite three consecutive dreadful seasons, hasn’t been able to draft from its own slot since 2013 thanks to previous deals that mortgaged the future for a run that resulted in exactly one playoff series win.  Cleveland owns this year’s Nets’ pick, eighth overall, which will be selected during Thursday’s draft at Barclays Center. 

Assuming he is unable to move up, Nets general manager Sean Marks will be left to choose from among the relative scraps when his turn comes up at pick 29, which was obtained last summer in the Raptors’ salary dump of DeMarre Carroll.  The Nets also have two second-round picks, 40th and 45th overall.

Considering that the experts often swing and miss at lottery picks, it would be foolish for me to do anything but guess at who Marks will tab that low in the first round.  The Nets reportedly worked out over 70 players, though even that might not mean anything other than due diligence for the club’s database.  As I’ve noted previously, neither of Marks’ two prior first-round selections—guard Caris LeVert and center Jarrett Allen—were attached to Brooklyn in any report in advance of those respective drafts.

Oh, how I would be thrilled if the Nets found a gem that combines forward size (accompanied by the ability to switch onto multiple positions), shooting mechanics that suggest he could develop into an NBA three-point threat, and plus ballhandling/passing skills.

Unfortunately, such multi-dimensional players will surely be picked off much earlier.  Those expected to be remaining on the board all have flaws, like Jarred Vanderbilt’s (Kentucky) shooting, Moritz Wagner’s (Michigan) foot speed, or Bosnian Dzanan Musa’s body.

Instead, it’s more likely that Marks will continue to go with the “best player available” strategy, even if it means adding another point guard to a roster that already includes D’Angelo Russell, Jeremy Lin, Spencer Dinwiddie and LeVert.

We do know that a player’s character weighs heavily in the evaluations prepared by Marks and his staff, whether it’s a 19-year old kid like Allen or the more mature LeVert, who turned 22 before his first training camp.

With that in mind, here are three players projected to go in Brooklyn’s vicinity who I believe (again, guessing) could be targeted by Marks:

Grayson Allen (Duke)

When college basketball fans think of Allen, “high character” doesn’t spring to mind.  The annoying and often dirty Allen is the typical Devil of the Mike Krzyzewski era.  However, it’s the opponents, not his teammates, who have reported issues with Allen.  The only question is whether Allen will fall to Brooklyn, given his excellent reported showings at the NBA Combine and private sessions.  He can shoot it from deep AND can jump.  If just one team believes his dominance against a chair (a reference to an infamous 2007 workout of former Net Yi Jianlian) will be transferable, then he’ll be gone by the mid-twenties.

Jalen Brunson (Villanova)

I know, it makes no sense for the Nets to waste this pick on another point guard.  However, I distinctly remember how the Nets were wowed by the development of Fred VanVleet in Toronto last season.  While Brunson has nowhere near VanVleet’s defensive reputation coming out of college, their scouting reports are otherwise eerily similar.  Their grit and basketball IQs were both off the charts, with emphasis on their successes operating out of the pick-and-roll.  Brunson’s superior shooting may tip the scales in his favor.            

Chandler Hutchison (Boise State)

The Joe Harris replacement?  With Harris set to test the free agent waters on July 1, the Nets might need to develop another wing.  Hutchison is known for his ability to knock down catch-and-shoot three-pointers and off-ball cutting, the two things Harris does best.  Scouting reports suggest that Hutchison’s impressive close-outs on shooters give him the potential to develop into a decent defensive player.  Jonathan Givony of ESPN reported that the Nets were the team that promised they would select Hutchison if he fell to them, which is why he cancelled all individual workouts.

Of course, it wouldn’t shock me if none of these guys are there at 29.  These drafts never go as planned.  It’s even more of a crapshoot afterwards.  The best player in last year’s draft turned out to be Donovan Mitchell, and he went 13th.

Another reason to mock all these mock drafts.

For a FAN’s perspective of the Nets, Devils and Jets, follow Steve on Twitter @SteveLichtenst1